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Playwright: A Compound Word for a Compound Job

playwright n. a writer who plays until the play plays right

Fun fact: in older English, a “wright” was a maker or craftsman, which makes a playwright a maker of plays, an artisan. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty cool. And entirely appropriate.

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How Much Characterization Can You Get Out Of 1 Word?

This is not the safest word to use in conversation.

This is not the safest word to use in conversation.

Having a character use this word is instant characterization. Off the top of my head, I can picture 3 entertaining uses:

  1. The Attempt To Be PC – Maybe it’s the Latin, but I picture a young, inexperienced person who was raised in the upper echelons. I imagine that he/she is put on the spot in some fancy cocktail party and after stumbling for a polite term, reverts to something he/she learned in school.
  2. The Accidental Insult – This works best with aliens, elves, Sheldons, etc. Traditionally, the characters who do this either do not have a filter or do not realize that the description would be insulting in this land/culture. They insult people without knowing that they’ve done so (you often see this in situational comedies).
  3. The Added Insult – If a character uses this to deliberately harm, he/she is probably aiming for multiple levels of insult. First, there’s the obvious commentary on the target’s weight. On top of that (and probably more important overall), would be the superiority insult. The I’m-so-smart-I’m-insulting-you-with-words-you-don’t-even-know complex. There might even be a sub-type here with teenagers trying to show off.

I’m sure there are more, but even with 3, that’s a lot of characterization out of one unusual word.

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A.K.A. How You Learn To Write

mistake. noun. something to learn from and leave behind

Per Merriam-Webster, “1. a wrong judgment or action 2. something that is incorrect.” I like mine better.

It is how you learn to write – or do anything else for that matter. Humans learn by making mistakes. Or by watching other people make mistakes. There’s no two ways around it.

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Programs for Writers: Scrivener

Did you know that there are computer programs designed especially for writers? If you look at the list of goodies from the NaNoWriMo sponsors, you’ll see several deals on programs such as Scrivener, Ulysses, Storyist, and Evernote.

I have only tried Scrivener, so I can’t describe how the others work; however, I figure that if you hadn’t heard about any of these programs, then maybe Scrivener’s features will interest you enough for you to look into the different options. Or you could just buy Scrivener. Or none of them. Whatever.

So… Scrivener.

For some writers, the main advantage of Scrivener is that it does the formatting for you. You can write in whatever font/sizing you like, and once the story is done, you can convert it to manuscript format by clicking on the word compile. You can choose what type of file you want (rtf, pdf, etc), and you can even choose between different format options. Besides standard manuscript format for novels, there are formats for online publishing and book publishing (and more), as well, so you can easily convert the story to several formats without having to go back through and change it all yourself.

The rest of Scrivener’s features focus more on how you want to write.

People who travel, don’t like clutter, or prefer doing all their planning on the computer may like the features for tracking and planning your work. For visual people, there is a corkboard option, where you can lay out the story on 3×5 cards. A click of the button changes that to an outline with the same information. And there is a folder for research that stays separate from your written work (it doesn’t compile with it) but that you can view at the same time.

So your story, research, and planning are all together in a single file and program.

Additionally, Scrivener lets you break up the story into chapters, scenes, or whatever size you want, and by dragging each bit’s icon to a new position, you can reorder them at any time. You can work on them as isolated scenes or see the whole work. And if you don’t want to get distracted by other programs, you can write in full screen mode, which blacks out everything but your writing.

Outside of writing tools, I like the fact that it comes with several example files for different kinds of works (screenplays, poetry books, nonfiction books, etc), and I like that it has lots of videos about how to use it. (If you want to check them out, they’ll talk a lot more about different features and things I skipped.)

Having spent the last few years writing in Word (my free trial for Scrivener expired a while back), it’s been a bit of an adjustment to switch back to Scrivener but not a bad/frustrating one. I may use it simply as a word processing program for the book I’m currently working on and try out the planning and scene features for a different piece. I may never be comfortable doing that part in the computer (I like paper…), but if I only use it to compile and format, the cost will be worth it for me.

What about you? Do you use a program designed for writers? How do you like it?